“What if the cure to cancer was stuck in someone’s mind who couldn’t afford an education?”
This is a question that Doina wakes up to every morning.
“What I realized from doing what I do, a lot of the young women are very determined. They all just want a chance; they all want an opportunity.” Doina says, “What upsets me is that there are so many barriers preventing them from being that person they are meant to be.”
Doina Oncel is the CEO/Founder of hEr VOLUTION, a non profit organization designed to provide access to women and young girls to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) based education and employment opportunities.
Where is hEr VOLUTION today?
Currently, We are almost 6 years in existence. We depend a lot on the support of the community who have donated their time, provided space, provided resources, and money. I am still blown away when individuals and companies say “I would like to invest in your organization” because they are betting on us to create change for the society.
How are you able to measure your direct impact and long term impact?
In terms of direct impact, we have young women who have registered for our programs. Some of them still come to my house to talk about where they are, what they need, and recent challenges. We have formed a circle where these young women are now supporting each other.
Another reason why we keep in touch with these young women is to see where they are in 5 years time, 10 years time. Statistics show an increase in women enrollment in STEM, but not all of them stay in the field for work afterwards. We want to see why.
We are still new at what we are doing. It takes time to actually see the proper impact. To all the individuals and companies thinking about investing, don’t expect results tomorrow. The overnight success for changing the numbers for women in STEM may take 10 years to happen. That should not discourage us from investing in the next generation of talent.
What keeps you going in the face of challenges?
Working with the vulnerable sector is quite challenging. It is not just about working with companies that provide resources but it is also about building trust with the young women and their families.
I am humbled and very grateful for all the help I get. We are very lucky to have an amazing group of volunteers. They give their time and resources to make sure we send the right messages to the right people. hEr VOLUTION is not about me; hEr VOLUTION is about the next generation of young women.
These young women keep me going. It is the young women that are starving for learning. It is the parents that send me emails at the end of the program that say “you changed my daughter’s life!”
Another thing that is really rewarding is being invited to sit at the table and discuss government policies that can impact the future of our next generation. We take all the feedback we get from all the young women, their parents, and people who we work with. That keeps me going because I feel that the work we do would make a long term impact.
hEr VOLUTION provides assistance, counselling and support to young women seeking employment in STEM-related fields who, because of their backgrounds, might not otherwise have access to such employment opportunities. The non-profit organization provides workshops, seminars, and education camps for for low income and marginalized youth with a focus on girls and young women. Visit https://www.hervolution.org/ for more information on how you can get involved.